Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In the field

This blog will not be updated for awhile as we take to the field to do some research for our book.

Check back in mid-March for news about our latest adventures.

-Dan & Chris

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The jury is out ... still.

Debate has raged for more than 300 years over whether William Kidd was guilty of piracy for allowing the Quedah Merchant to be taken by his crew in the Indian Ocean. The debate continues today in a poll at the bottom of the page.

Those who say yes point to some very bad choices he made, including drunkenly bragging to a Navy commander that he would steal replacement sails and rigging for his ship, the Adventure Galley, if he felt like it. He also failed to control his crew of former and not-so-former pirates who were on the brink of mutiny and overly eager to get paid for their share of goods seized, legally or not.

Those who agree with Kidd's words that he was "the most innocent of pirates" point to a French pass carried by the Quedah Merchant, making the ship a legal war prize for any English vessel at the time. And they cite language in Kidd's commission as a privateer which gave him the right to seize and "condemn" such vessels.

And even some who say he was guilty concede that his trial set a new low-water mark for politically-influenced justice in early 18th century England.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Breaking news

With apologies for a very crude bit of computerized translation from Spanish, here is an article from the daily newspaper in Santo Domingo, the Diario Libre, describing the status of the wreck of the Quedah Merchant. If anyone would like to offer a better translation, the original article is here.

SANTO DOMINGO Dec. 20, 2007. The Ministry of Culture, through the National Bureau of Patromonio Cultural Underwater (ONPCS), signed an agreement in 2005 with a researcher to locate the remains of the ship's captain Kidd, which were recently discovered by a tourist in near the Catalina Island, in La Romana.

Burt Webber, known researcher who discovered the Spanish galleon Concecpión at Banco de la Plata, was commissioned by Culture to locate the boat Kidd, a famous pirate of the late seventeenth century.

Lourdes Camilo deCuello, undersecretary of Cultural Heritage, FW informed that in the coming days the Executive Branch will issue a decree to declare the area a protected area where there are the remains of the boat Quedaght Merchant.

"Webber was devoted for many years to investigate all matters relating to life of the famous pirate and concluded that the remains of their boat, the Quedagh Merchant, were located in the river Dulce de La Romana, or in the vicinity of Catalina Island," highlight a communique sent to DL.

He recounted that for several months has conducted studies on magnetic and visual finds in the  River, where significant magnetic anomalies were located, without any positive result.

"Months later, the ONPCS asked the captain Tracy Bowden, discoverer of the galleons Toulouse and Guadeloupe in Samana Bay, and who has more than 30 years working in the country, to make investigations and excavations in the anomalies detected by Webber. Results were also negative," said the official.

The historical narratives of Captain Kidd said after practice piracy in the Indian and Atlantic oceans, took refuge on the coast of the Dominican Republic to wait for a new ship that will take back to New York, as his ship was in poor condition. Kidd handed over all the goods and weapons to another ship and decided to burn and sink the Quedagh Merchant.

The discovery
Camilo explained that the first to receive the news of the discovery were the authorities of Culture, as the Italian tourist Ferruccio Fiorucci announced the discovery.

"He discovered a conglomerate of guns and the captain of the Navy of Casa de Campo alerted our office to notify the deputy head of the office of Underwater Heritage, Peter Borrell and Francis Soto. Fiorucci both performed alongside the site visit," said Camilo.

The site, located near the cliffs and a rocky bottom, with only 8 feet of water, has 26 guns and several sections of iron anchors. The shape of the conglomerate and the provision of clearly indicates that the guns were used at the time of the sinking as ballast of a ship. At the site, the soil and rock conditions at the high waves and the surf that occurs there, we found no remains of the wooden boat or any other device.

Technical Indiana
The ONPCS invited technicians from the University of Indiana who were in the Isabela conducting archaeological surveys under agreement with the ONPCS to visit the site to assist in the investigation of the wreck. They conducted a survey and the ONPCS working on the definitive identification of the vessel and in the creation of a submarine fleet, and to preserve the area for the enjoyment of divers who can access it in absolute calm days.

"We also invited Chris Macort, a major historian about the pirate Kidd, to visit the site and contribute to the identification of the remains."

Attractive tourist
Lourdes Camilo de Cuello explained that while leaving the decree, units of the Navy mounted surveillance for the purpose of protecting the area. "We hope that domestic and international tourists come. It is good to report that the location is in very deep waters," he said.

- Severe Rivera

Welcome to all with an interest in pirates and Capt. Kidd

Welcome to a blog devoted to the most provocative mystery in the Captain Kidd saga.

Though we are just getting started on this blog, we have been researching and writing our book for several years and hope soon to announce a publication date.

When Kidd and his mutinous crew seized the Quedah Merchant in the Indian Ocean in 1698, they stole cargo which belonged to the English East India Company, putting Kidd into the center of a political firestorm in which King William III needed to appear tough on piracy.

But the king was an investor in Kidd's mission and stood to profit from goods legally seized. And the Quedah Merchant was sailing under a French pass. Kidd sailed the leaky "prize" to the Caribbean and the man he left in charge tried to hide the ship, whose Moorish design screamed "stolen by pirates" to anyone who happened by. Efforts to find it began almost immediately and our new interpretation  of an often-overlooked and misunderstood captain's journal suggests that one person did indeed discover where the Quedah Merchant lay, but did not report it to the authorities.

And so it remained hidden for 300 years, until late in 2007. Our book tells the whole story, time-traveling from the 17th century to the 21st and back again, combining breaking news with historic details. Our book reveals for the first time the hidden motives and plots which swirled around Kidd and which continue to hamper modern efforts to find and verify the final resting place of the Quedah Merchant.

Keep checking this site for breaking news about the discovery of this amazing vessel and about our book.

Thank you,

-Dan Hamilton & Chris Macort